U.S labor update: Payrolls up, jobless rate down

Payrolls increased and the unemployment rate retreated in the United States. But the latest monthly job gains were the smallest in nearly 18 months.

Nonfarm payrolls grew 263,000 as the jobless rate decreased two-tenths of a point to 3.5 percent in September, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates.

Payroll gains for July were revised upward 11,000 to 537,000. The initial estimate for August remained unchanged at 315,000.

With the latest numbers, payrolls increased an average of 420,000 a month through the first three quarters of 2022. Payrolls grew an average of 562,000 a month in 2021. The September gain was the smallest since April 2021.

For September, 5.8 million people were counted among those unsuccessfully looking for work. Of those, 1.1 million have been out of work 27 weeks or longer. Another 3.8 million people were counted among those working part-time because their hours were cut or they were unable to find full-time positions.

The labor participation rate edged down a tenth of a point to 62.3 percent, still below the rate before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

Payroll gains for September were spread out among industry sectors. Employment increased 83,000 in leisure and hospitality, 60,000 in health care and 46,000 in professional and business services.

The average workweek remained unchanged at 34.5 hours for a fourth consecutive month. The average manufacturing work week held steady at 40.3 hours.

Average hourly earnings increased 10 cents to $32.46. Over the past year, hourly earnings increased 5 percent.